Gas Rationing – Management Failure



Petrobangla, the state owned corporation responsible for exploration and exploitation of natural gas, oil and mineral resources of Bangladesh starts holiday staggering of gas using industrial areas in a desperate bid to confront serious gas crisis in greater Dhaka Titas Gas franchise Area (TFA) from next week. Titas Gas Transmission and distribution Company Ltd is the largest and the oldest Gas Transmission and Distribution Company of Bangladesh. It accounts for about 1480 MMCFD of 2000MCFD gas supplied all over Bangladesh. During this winter all kinds of consumers- Industrial, Domestic, commercial and CNG are suffering from serious gas crunch. There are some reports that gas demand in TFA is as high as 1700MMCFD. The deficit in gas supply and possible freezing of gas condensate inside smaller diameter funder sized gas network are attributed for the reasons of gas crisis. Experts have serious doubts whether the present action of holiday staggering in industrial areas will bring tangible benefits. When the deficit is of the order of 250MMCFD + saving of 40MMCFD may not make much of a difference.

All who knows about Bangladesh are aware that over the last decade or so there have been no major efforts to explore and exploit the gas resource of Bangladesh despite of the fact that Bangladesh economy is predominantly gas based. On the other hand exploiting very low rate of energy=power and gas there had been mushroom growth of medium and large gas and energy consuming industries in and around Dhaka and Chittagong. These unbalanced growth of gas consumers overwhelmed the security of supply. Unfortunately unprofessional Gas Sector management remained naïve .There were no corporate planning, no perspective planning. Lack of exploration and development of gas resources, failure to expand transmission and distribution network capacity enhancement, poor operation of transmission and distribution infrastructures have led to the present crisis…

Now we have arrived at a situation when housewives in Dhaka metropolis are struggling to cook daily meals, CNG fuelling stations are struggling to supply CNG, all types of industries are starving for quality gas supply.

The situation was not like this only a year before. One wonders what might have happened in last one year of the present mahajote government which made such panic situation? Bangladesh Awami League claimed in its election manifesto that it had proper home work of energy sector and gas sector. Energy sector management made some high sounding presentations to Prime Minister about their plans, mega plans. But then why situation aggravated to such level that Gas Rationing became essential. Did we cut our coat according to clothes? Did we expand our customer base injudiciously increasing demand further knowing fully well that these will trigger crisis? While doing post mortem PMO must find out why new gas connections were given knowing fully well that transmission capacity is not going to expand in one year and no addition will be made to gas production? We feel some smart persons deliberately did it to put government in embarrassing situation.

Gas Supply to greater Dhaka Titas System is made through the following pipelines from national Gas Grid

* Titas- Norsingdi- Demra, Gas Transmission Pipeline.
* Titas- Norshingdi Joydevpoor Gas transmission Pipeline
* Bakhrabad –Demra Transmission Pipeline
* Monohardi-Norshingdi Spur Line
* Dhanua –Shavar Spur line.

A pipeline from Elenga to Tangail also brings some gas through Bangabandhu Bridge approach road pipeline.

Significant volume of gas in Titas system is offloaded along transmission segment at Ashuganj, Norshingdi, Ghorashal and Meghnaghat areas. When gas arrives in Dhaka after meeting all the demand on the route the quantity and pressure of gas becomes inappropriate to meet growing demand. Moreover Dhaka Gas Distribution network built over several years still have many smaller diameter segments which can meet the requirements.

Considering the massive growth of Gas using Dhaka and adjoining areas a higher diameter merchant pipeline from central gas hub should have been build long time back if there was anything called perspective planning in gas system.

On such an overstressed Gas distribution network Titas embarked on ADB assisted Dhaka Clean fuel Project to ensure quality gas supply to expanding CNG industry. Under the project GTCL constructed Dhanua –Shavar Gas spur line.Titas built several larger diameter feeder mains. The project must have been completed now. While end users should enjoy benefits of this project they are not suffering gas draughts.

Present Government Action since January 2009.

Government placed Major (Retried) Mukhatadir Ali as Chairman Petrobangla and also engaged Mr Yusuf Talukdar as Director (Operation & Mines) PB. These tow are very important positions of Gas System planning and operation. Mr Ali was MD, Titas, Director (Planning) and Director (PSC) PB prior to his assignment as PB Chairman. Mr Talukdar had very little experience to Operate Gas system or mining. Government should now assess what benefit these two gentlemen brought to them over the last one year.Mr Ali has retired and Mr Talukdar is made OSD. But Gas sector and energy sector are bleeding now for their incompetence.

Petrobangla claims that gas production has increased over the last one year. But considering the growing deficit in gas grid if gas companies could stall adding new consumers over the last one year situation could not aggravate like this.

We consider the reason for the present crisis is.

* Inadequate gas production. No exploration and inadequate development of gas resource.
* Capacity saturation of National Gas grid to evacuate and transport gas at designated pressure.
* Failure to carry out regular on- stream pigging of major transmission pipelines causing impediment to capacity utilization of transmission system.
* Efforts to transport higher than designed capacity through saturated [restricted for absence of pigging] transmission system causing significant pressure drop over entire gas system.
* Irrational gas connection without assessing supply capacity.
* Failure to set up gas pipeline compressors in time.

Gas crisis will soon create more problems. More Power plants will become idle at peak irrigation time and summer causing massive power load shedding. Gas rationing, power load shedding and invariably water crisis with haunt city life from February. Will it be palatable for government? It may seriously affect government credibility in the next Dhaka City Council Mayor election.

We suggest the following immediate actions.

* Suspension of gas supply to UFFG and PUFF with immediate effect.
* Carrying out of On-Stream Pigging of Major Transmission Pipelines of National Gas grid by March 2010.
* Suspend gas supply to all CNG fuelling stations that started business after January 2009. Titas must compensate these investors.
* Carry out extensive drive to disconnect unauthorized connections.

PM as Energy minster must ask his underperformed Gas sector management to implement the above within a time bound action program. In the mean time some responsible person preferably Energy Advisor to PM within the Gas sector management must acknowledge the failure to improve the situation over the past year.

Kh. A. Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is the ex-Director (Operation) GTCL and writes from Australia.

One Response to “Gas Rationing – Management Failure”

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    Mr.Sufi is suggesting ways to solve this crisis.But the people who are at the helm of fairs, calling shots, need to understand how to put these suggestions into actions. Time and again, the govt is putting incompetent people to run and manage this very vital sector of the economy? Do they not have the right people consult and run this sector?

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